Protests escalate against acid attack on syndicalist cleaner in Athens
K. Kouneva, a militant syndicalist of the cleaner’s union in Athens was attacked with sulphuric acid and is in intensive care. The attack has led to the occupation of the Electric Railway HQs in Athens and a protest march to the hospital where she lies in coma.
On Monday 22 of December Konstantina Kouneva, militant syndicalist, general secretary of the cleaner’s union of Athens (Panattic Union of Cleaners and Domestic Personnel) and active feminist was attacked with vitriolic acid by what she and her comrades claim to be agents of her bosses. Konstantina, who comes from Bulgaria, has been actively campaigning for workers rights in one of the darkest sectors of the greek economy: companies that subhire female and predominantly immigrant, often sans-papiers, cleaners to state and private companies, as permited under a PaSoK (Socialist Party) law of 2001.
Konstantina’s bosses at OIKOMET, the company that provides cleaners to major banks and state magnates like the metro system and the national electricity company, have been known to have direct and close links to the political nepotistic establishment of the country. The company’s owner, Oikonomakis, has been a long term Socialist cadre in Pireaus. According to the Union, Konstantina had been recently receiving a series of threat calls by company thugs in relation to her demand that the Christmas bonus is fully paid to its workers, who had been forced to sign a receipt of payment receiving only half their salary earlier this month. Such threats apparently thickened after she started attending the Assembly of the Occupied General Worker’s Union during the days of the December Uprising. The attack that took place outside her flat in the traditional proletarian neighbourhood of Petralona and sent the syndicalist in coma, has already cost Konstantina one of her eyes, while doctors are struggling to save the other one and her phonetic chords.
In response to the bosses’ attack and the general apathy of the media which have imposed a virtual blackout on the subject, a solidarity demo took place on the 26 of December outside Evangelismos hospital where she is been held in intensive care. During the demo a police car that tried to cross nearby was attacked with rocks by the protesters. Trying to organise more consistent and long-term counterinformation and solidarity action to the syndicalist, an Assembly for Solidarity to K. Kouneva has been formed late this week. On Saturday 27, the Assembly occupied the Headquarters of ISAP, the state-owned Athens-Piraeus Electric Railway Company, which has been hiring Konstantina along with hundreds of other cleaners by OIKOMET. The Assembly hang banners condemning corporate violence and decided to hold a protest march in the centre of Athens on Sunday afternoon. Despite the short-notice and the seasonal holiday, the march was attended by more than 500 people who marched to Evangelismos hospital chanting slogans like "ISAP and the bosses throw vitriolic acid, we shall burn the city down", "Class hatred, kick and punch the bosses" and "Konstantina you are not alone, bosses pigs murderers". The text that follows is the pamphlet of the occupied ISAP HQs.